Toyota C-HR review
|Car type||Fuel economy||CO2 emissions||0-62mph|
The Toyota C-HR is an unusual-looking vehicle that’s designed to stand out in the very crowded small SUV class. Clearly the approach works, as more than 50,000 examples have been sold in the UK, and a facelift for 2020 was designed to ensure that the car’s popularity endures.
Four out of five pre-facelift C-HRs were bought with a hybrid engine, and it’s here that Toyota made the most fundamental change: the C-HR is now hybrid-only, with the sole pure-petrol model ditched in favour of a 1.8 and 2.0-litre petrol-electric line-up.
The 1.8-litre – also found in the Toyota Prius – is carried over, with the engine working in tandem with an electric motor to provide 120bhp and fuel economy just shy of 60mpg The 2.0-litre was first seen in the Toyota Corolla and features two electric motors: a main one to provide drive, and a supplementary one that harvests energy from the car’s regenerative braking system. Total power amounts to 182bhp, which lowers the C-HR’s 0-62mph time from 11 to 8.2 seconds.
That extra turn of speed comes at the cost of some fuel efficiency: Toyota says the 2.0-litre model should return a still-respectable 54.3mpg, and our test drive on UK roads suggested this is a realistic figure to aim for. All versions of the C-HR feature a CVT automatic gearbox, with drive sent to the front wheels only.
Bear in mind that the C-HR is a ‘self-charging’ hybrid like the Toyota RAV4 and Kia Niro, and not a plug-in like the Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV, MINI Countryman S E and Renault Captur. So, while you can’t charge the car with a cable, you’ll spend a surprising amount of time in ‘EV mode’. The 2.0-litre version is more effective in this respect thanks to its more powerful electric motor, which will kick in for short (but frequent) bursts at speeds of up to 75mph.
At a steady speed, the C-HR is very quiet, to the point where the switch between engine and electric power almost doesn’t register. But one of the car’s biggest flaws makes itself apparent under harsh acceleration, which sparks an almighty racket from the engine as the revs spike to provide maximum power. The 2.0-litre powertrain suffers less than the 1.8 in this respect thanks to its greater power.
As SUVs go, the C-HR drives tidily, with light steering and reasonable cornering ability making it a doddle to steer around town. Toyota says various tweaks have been made to the suspension to make the slightly heavier 2.0-litre version more comfortable, although the car still feels unsettled on most roads.
Other foibles include a relatively small boot, poor rear visibility (due to that sloping roofline) and a dreadful eight-inch infotainment touchscreen that’s highly unintuitive to use. Happily, Toyota now offers Apple CarPlay and Android Auto smartphone connectivity, which goes a long way to making up for the shortcomings of its own system.
Those issues aside, the C-HR remains a highly appealing small SUV, with a five-year/100,000-mile guarantee and a generous equipment list likely to tempt many buyers away from its main rivals. For a more detailed look at the Toyota C-HR Hybrid, read the rest of our in-depth review.